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Walks - River Crossings

Wednesday 21st June 2006

A 4½ mile walk from Hoarwithy Bridge examining the river crossings, led by Heather Hurley for the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty programme.

Hoarwithy Bridge: connecting Kings Caple with Hoarwithy, was originally built of timber in 1856 to replace a former ford and ferry crossing.  The second bridge was constructed of iron in 1876, and this was replaced in 1990 with the present one of concrete and steel. As a toll bridge the collector charged according to a table of tolls which ranged from a farthing to 3d. The ford  was situated at a wide and shallow part of the river and crossed in a diagonal direction between the tow banks. The  ferry known as ‘ye greate passage Boote of Horewethie’ in 1581, was in use with a ‘small boat’ in the late 18th century which were both maintained by John Fidoe of Kings Caple. ‘Fidoe the ferryman was lusty and strong’, but by 1844 he had ‘become weak; and Old Humphrey is not likely again to cross the stream in the big horse-boat piloted by Fidoe’. The ford and ferry were stopped up under the terms of the Bridge Act of 1855, but are clearly marked on earlier maps.

The foot suspension bridge at Sellack Boat

Red Rail: a name which may be derived from the Welsh ‘ford of the street’ linking Kings Caple with Hentland along a route which may date from Roman times or earlier. The river at Red Rail flows along a deep and narrow stretch making it a difficult crossing for man and beast, but it was in use up to the mid 19th century. As several limestone slabs have been found in the river, it has been understood that a causeway or possibly a bridge once existed here.

Caradoc: There is evidence to suggest that there was a river crossing between Caradoc and Pennoxstone, which was probably a private boat.

Sellack Boat: connects Kings Caple with Sellack, and as the name suggests it was a ferry crossing replaced by the foot bridge in 1895. Its construction was initiated by the Rev Ley who was vicar of both parishes and set up a subscription fund. Donations came in from landowners and tradesmen who desired to see a more convenient crossing. The ‘outlay incurred in building the Sellack Footbridge over the Wye’ totalled £989 12 4d.

Kings Caple Church: dedicated to St. John the Baptist dates from the Norman period with a 14th century tower and 17th century spire. Box pews have survived together with many memorials to local families including the sad one of Captain Hutcheson who fought against the French in the Peninsular War and served in India, and on his return to Kings Caple drowned ‘in attempting to cross the river Wye at Sellack Ford’ in 1819.

The river from Sellack Bridge

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
   

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maintained by Archenfield Archaeology Ltd

           

This project was part-financed by the European Union (EAGGF) and DEFRA through the Herefordshire Rivers LEADER+ Programme.